Classes such as STEM encourage students to think outside the box and become prolific innovators of tomorrow. We need to attract the best minds to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields — and half of those minds belong to women. I want to motivate more people to inspire and encourage the females in our lives to pursue classes and careers in STEM. Here’s three ways we can do it:

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1. Friendship. From my experience in JHS, the gender gap begins younger than you might think, and the trend only continues to widen. Let’s get ahead of it, let’s encourage our girls to explore the areas of STEM at a young age. Make it fun. Take your daughter and her friends on a trip to the science museum. Encourage them to get outside and do fun experiments like water rockets, and make it a group activity instead of an individual chore. Keep it fun, and above all, make it “tech” simple.

2. Respect and Confidence. Show respect for a girls ideas and inventions and let them thrive through their creativity! Respect their opinions and let them fail at the activity, even if you know how to fix it. Herman Melville once said, “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” We learn the most from our failures in life and when they do figure it out they will have more confidence than when they started.

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3. Individuality. Encourage collaboration with other genders wherever possible. It’s important for them to embrace the value of gender diversity. What if Grace Hopper had never weighed in on the creation of the Mark I computer? There may not have been a computer or a place for me to write this!

Women’s perspectives in STEM are just as vital as men’s. A good first step is for male and female teachers alike to be aware and supportive. Instilling the right values at a young age is half the battle. Let’s help to promote equality of genders in STEM. It starts with how we choose to raise our daughters. Let’s encourage and inspire the next generation of women in STEM!

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